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Activists interrupt Catholic Mass by reading from Pope Francis' climate writings

Video from Italian outlet Il Fatto Quotidiano shows an Extinction Rebellion activist at one point flanked by Repole and other clergy in the Turin Cathedral on Dec. 3, 2023.
Video from Italian outlet Il Fatto Quotidiano shows an Extinction Rebellion activist at one point flanked by Repole and other clergy in the Turin Cathedral on Dec. 3, 2023. | Screengrab/YouTube/Il Fatto Quotidiano

Climate activists interrupted a Roman Catholic Mass in Turin, Italy, over the weekend to read from Pope Francis' writings about the climate.

Moments before Archbishop Roberto Repole's homily at the Turin Cathedral on Sunday, activists with the group Extinction Rebellion stood and read from Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si'" and his 2023 apostolic exhortation "Laudate Deum," according to Italian newspaper la Repubblica and noted by Catholic News Agency.

Video of the incident on YouTube shows an activist at one point flanked by Repole and other clergy.

Both documents address the the climate crisis and mankind's duty toward creation. "Laudato Si," which is named after a hymn by St. Francis of Assisi that emphasizes being in harmony of God with other creatures, was 38,000 words and exclusively about climate change, while "Laudate Deum" echoed many of the same themes but was much shorter.

Extinction Rebellion is a U.K.-founded grassroots organization that describes itself as "a decentralized, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency," according to their website.

In a statement posted on the Italian version of Extinction Rebellion's website, the group admitted that activists affiliated with their organization briefly interrupted the Mass in the cathedral to read from writings by which Francis "expressed himself forcefully on the gravity of the ecological and climate crisis, analyzing its scientific and political aspects with great depth."

The archbishop said in a statement following the disruption by the activists that while he esteemed their "commitment" in the sense they "mobilize for the defense of creation and accept the appeals of Pope Francis," he did not appreciate the way they went about it.

"I am sorry that they decided to take the floor in the Duomo without first wanting to talk to me and ask if they could intervene," he said. “I would have replied that at Mass we often pray for peace and for the preservation of creation, but the Eucharistic celebration is not a suitable time to host public interventions."

“I initially let the activists speak; then I asked them to end because Mass is a moment of prayer and as such it must be respected, also and above all by those who declare that they want to work with respect for all,” Repole added.

During the keynote address that was delivered by Cardinal Pietro Parolin on his behalf last week at the U.N.'s climate conference in Dubai, Pope Francis said "the destruction of the environment is an offense against God, a sin that is not only personal but also structural, one that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable in our midst, and threatens to unleash a conflict between generations.”

The pontiff, who could not attend the conference in person as planned because of a lung inflammation, also claimed climate change "signals the need for political change. Let us emerge from the narrowness of self-interest and nationalism; these are approaches belonging to the past."

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to jon.brown@christianpost.com

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